Under the pretext of security and military needs, an armed opposition group seized civilian-owned farms and homes in the city of Al-Bab in northern Aleppo in 2017. Five years later, the original owners have been unable to recover their properties.
The group that seized the properties is led by a man named Fadi Al-Saleh, also known as Fadi Al-Deiri, and has been allied with various Syrian National Army (SNA) factions. Most group members were forcibly displaced from Homs and its countryside to northern Syria, where Al-Bab is located.
Currently, the group is known as the Bayazeid Brigade. It is affiliated with the Sultan Malakshah Division, a part of the Turkish-backed SNA’s Second Corps that controls the Euphrates Shield area of the northern Aleppo governorate. Previously, the group had been affiliated with the Sultan Murad Division before splitting in 2020.
In 2017, the Bayazeid fighters extorted 25 farms and houses in Al-Bab. They claimed the properties belonged to regime loyalists and absentees who no longer lived in the area. Afterwards, the group made the properties into its headquarters and refused to return them to their owners, claiming they were strategically located and overlooked regime territory.
Most recently, on September 29, 2022, the Hayat Thaeroon, a component of the SNA in Al-Bab, reached an agreement with the owners of the 25 extorted properties. Under this agreement, the homes and farms must be handed over to their owners within a six-month deadline. Thaeroon would be given priority if the owners decided to sell their properties in the future. However, the agreement, made in the presence of Al-Bab Revolutionary Council representatives and local notables, did not include signed approval by representatives of the Bayazeid Brigade or the affiliated Sultan Malakshah Division.
Thaeroon is a group of several SNA factions and is meant to serve as a unified military body for northern Syria. It works on various opposition-related issues in the area, such as settling disputes and restoring certain rights.
Under last month’s agreement, which The Syria Report reviewed, Thaeroon promised to return the extorted homes and farms to their owners by the end of the six months.
The owners of the 25 extorted properties organised a protest in Al-Bab on September 23, demanding that their homes and farms be returned. In a statement released after the demonstration, some owners said they had received death threats from Fadi Al-Deiri.
According to The Syria Report’s correspondent in the area, the property owners have received multiple offers from Al-Deiri via intermediaries to sell their homes and farms. They rejected the proposals, insisting instead on recovering the properties instead.
Previously, in 2019, the property owners turned to the SNA General Command’s Security Establishment in Al-Bab, when Fadi Al-Deiri’s group was a part of the Sultan Murad Division. Some owners obtained a letter from the Security Establishment directing Sultan Murad to vacate the properties. However, the properties remained occupied and the Security Establishment ceased to exist in 2020.
Other attempts to seek mediation from SNA leaders failed, despite SNA commanders, such as Second Corps leader Muhammad Al-Baz, pledging in 2020 to return the extorted properties to their owners.